Editor’s note: Most REI stores are temporarily closed. Read the new letter from our CEO explaining our COVID-19 response, including new services and store reopenings. For more information, review our FAQs. Please consult the CDC or your state health department for information related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow local guidelines regarding travel, and check access to outdoor spaces […]
Editor’s note: Most REI stores are temporarily closed. Read the new letter from our CEO explaining our COVID-19 response, including new services and store reopenings. For more information, review our FAQs. Please consult the CDC or your state health department for information related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow local guidelines regarding travel, and check access to outdoor spaces before you visit. Remember that outdoor recreation has inherent risks; don’t attempt activities beyond your experience and skill level. Your actions may present risk not only to you, but the local community.
There’s no better time than the present to turn to the trusty two-wheeled machine for exercise and peace. And though many parks, forests and trailheads remain temporarily closed, the roads are wide-open. (True, there’s also less traffic.)
Whether you’re assembling your first road-cycling kit or simply upgrading a piece of it, find what you need here. We’ve gathered everything you need to make the most of the road biking that exists right outside your door.
Road cycling shoes aren’t known for being particularly comfortable, but Shimano’s synthetic leather RP4 feels broken in out of the box. The three-part buckle system helps eliminate hot spots and the wide heel pad gives you a little more stability than a standard road shoe if you’re stopping by a coffee shop for a mid-ride espresso. $130
You don’t need graduated compression and wide, clean-cut leg grippers—but once you experience the comfort of such features, it’s hard to go back to shorts without them. You get all of that, plus reflective elements, in the Bontrager Circuit, which sports a plush, dual-density chamois to boot. $100
Hey, remember those features we were talking about? This offering from Terry comes with all the goods in a women’s style: compression, wide leg grippers, a Flex-Air chamois and a high waist. The Hi-Rise Holster also has deep, mesh hip pockets, which can easily swallow a smartphone. $124.95
For road biking, any breathable, moisture-wicking jersey will do, so beyond that, it’s all about thoughtful touches. That’s why we like the Bontrager Anara (the men’s version is called the Circuit LTD). It has five pockets, including an easy-access one on the left hip and a zippered one with audio routing, plus a drop-tail hem for full coverage when you’re in a cycling position. $100
Get bang for your buck with the Showers Pass Syncline CC, a rain jacket that’s as suited to road rides as day hikes. The lightweight shell features reflective trim, a drop-tail hem and a hood that easily fits under a helmet without bunching, but it’s durable enough for the trail (and doesn’t scream cyclist). There are lighter options out there, but none as versatile as this—or at this price. $135
Long rides can leave your hands worked, especially if you’re riding gravel or rough roads. Bontrager’s combination of gel and memory-foam padding helps eliminate pressure points in your hands, while the faux leather palm provides a solid connection with the handlebar. $40
Keep your phone handy for Strava, maps or conference calls with the Nite Ize Wraptor, which holds standard smartphones (with or without cases). The doodad attaches to most handlebar sizes, providing you with full access to the screen. It even rotates so you can have vertical or landscape view. $20
Having proper lighting is one of the top safety priorities for cyclists. This combo from NiteRider gives you a whopping 650 lumens in the front and 80 red lumens in the rear (to keep you visible). The lights are USB-rechargeable and water resistant. Nice touch: They have a lock mode, so the lights won’t accidentally run while your bike is parked. $80
Don’t get caught unprepared. This kit from Topeak has everything you need to fix a flat, loose handlebar or other common roadside issues inside a small pouch that easily attaches to the rear of your seat. $49.95
The Hexband isn’t a foolproof lock (give a determined thief enough time and they’ll bypass anything), but it should do the trick if you’re looking for protection during short stops. The stainless-steel band from OTTO DesignWorks is light (just 250 grams) and mounts easily to your seat post, so you can keep it on your bike and always be prepared for impromptu grocery runs or grabbing takeout. For added security, OTTO recommends using the Hexband with a redundant U-lock. $69
Looking to level up your road bike? Consider the Synapse, which has a drool-worthy mix of BallisTec carbon tubing and Ultegra components. The race-inspired bike is around 19 pounds, depending on size—plenty light if you’re looking to shave time off your regular routes (or add some KOMs to your Strava profile). But this speedster from Cannondale is also comfortable enough to handle an all-day ride thanks to the endurance-race geometry that allows you to sit more upright than a traditional race bike. $3,300
Less traffic, more adventure: That’s allure of riding gravel, and the Salsa Journeyman can handle the chunkiest roads while still serving as your daily roadster, giving you all-road capability at an entry-level price. A 1×11 drivetrain keeps things simple while still giving you the gears you need for steep climbs, and if you have dreams of bikepacking (or bringing home the groceries), you’re in luck: It’s ready for fenders, racks and bags. $1,499
Interested in more staff picks and kits? Find more collections here.